- Purposeful, tough styling
- Substantial feel
- Flexible cargo-bed system
- Electronic aids for off-roading
- Good outward visibility
- Choppy ride
- Lackluster handling
- Somewhat narrow cabin
- Backseat space (Extended Cab)
- Four-cylinder models don't include stability control
With some innovative cargo solutions and tough off-road ability, the 2010 Suzuki Equator is a good match for weekend active types and busy hobbyists.
As Suzuki's first modern pickup for the United States, the Equator is largely a Nissan Frontier, rebadged with some slightly different trim and details. Available in Extended Cab and Crew Cab models, the 2010 Equator puts a slightly more recreational and off-road focus on a mid-size pickup design.
The Equator arguably looks better than the Frontier, with its more aggressively styled snout and some great options in terms of paint colors and wheels to complete the purpose-built appearance. Inside, there isn't much of a difference between the Suzuki and its Nissan cousin; the Equator carries a simple and inoffensive but tough look, though trims won't catch any fickle eyes.
The Equator's base engine is Nissan's 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder with 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, available with a five-speed manual or a five-speed, electronically controlled automatic, but the engine feels hard-pressed in the Equator and won't be much better for fuel efficiency in everyday driving. Optional (and standard on Crew Cab models) is Nissan's excellent 4.0-liter DOHC V-6, offered only with the five-speed automatic and featuring 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque. Two-wheel drive is standard on all Equators, with shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive optional. With the V-6, the Equator is rated at 15 mpg city, 19 highway with 4WD and 15/20 mpg with 2WD. As with most pickups, the Equator can feel quite different depending on how you appoint it. Base Extended Cab models seem quite sprightly and handle well, but Extended Cab models—particularly with 4WD—come across as ponderous.
The 2010 Suzuki Equator has a true body-on-frame design, which allows an impressive degree of toughness for off-roading and towing, but it has its costs. As such, the cabin is narrow, the ride rather busy, and the interior not so free of road noise. These same detriments become benefits when it's time for off-roading and towing, where a tough live axle, leaf springs, and a ladder frame shoulder extra weight with ease. Optional Hill-Descent Control (HDC) and Hill Start Assist (HSA) make crawling even the steepest trails a cinch. In 2WD, V-6 guise, the Equator happily tows 6,500 pounds.
The bed-storage system in the 2010 Equator is its piece de resistance, and better than what's found on the Frontier. The slanted bed-extender tailgate quite perfectly cradles the rear wheel of a dirt bike in the short-bed, crew-cab version. With five heavy-duty C-channel aluminum rails where adjustable tracks reside, allowing flexible tie-down of various items, plus a standard spray-on bedliner from the factory, removable utility cleats that slide into side channels, and plenty of additional options for this rack system, the Equator is the ridiculously equipped and well-thought-out. Looking inside, the Equator's cabin is truly nothing special. In Extended Cab form, the Equator comes with vestigial rear jump seats suitable only for children or storage. The Crew Cab offers much better rear seat accommodations, providing reasonable comfort and good utility, and in either version the front seats are just OK in terms of comfort. Interior materials and trims are also unremarkable, a bit plasticky but about par for this class.
The safety picture for the 2010 Equator isn't great, with a mix of crash-test ratings and some models lacking crucial safety features. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal offset crash testing, the Suzuki Equator earns a top "good" rating. IIHS has not yet tested an Equator for side impact protection, but it gave the Equator its worst rating, "poor," for rear crash protection. The Suzuki Equator earns decent ratings from NHTSA, receiving a mix of four- and five-star ratings for frontal protection in the Extended Cab model but four-star ratings for Crew Cab models. Rollover ratings aren't quite as impressive, with only three stars for both 2WD models. Side airbags and supplemental curtain bags are standard, as now required by the feds, but the lack of electronic stability control on the four-cylinder model is a sore point.
The Equator is offered in several different trims, including base, Comfort, Premium, Sport, RMZ-4, and RMZ-4 Sport. The RMZ-4 Sport is the standout of the line, including the bed extender, a moonroof, a Rockford-Fosgate sound system, Bluetooth, plus Hill Descent Control and Hill Hold Control. Suzuki also has one of the best warranties, good for 100,000 miles or seven years and fully transferable, for powertrain.